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AV Rant #481: Overly Plush

April 14th, 2016 No comments

This week, we thank Jason, Michael I., and Robbert L. for their donations! We also thank Justin B. and Scott B. for letting RBH and Accessories4Less know that they bought products from them because of AV Rant Podcast recommendations!

In the news, if you register on their forums, you can view the prototype for Ascend Acoustics’ new “Sierra Sat” mini monitor. NHT HiFi has updated their speaker lineup. They have replaced their “Classic” Series with the new NHT C-Series, and the “Absolute” Series has been replaced by the new Dolby-enabled NHT “Media” Series. There is a new $50 Roku Streaming Stick with a nifty new app. And FlatPanelsHD posted a comprehensive write-up of Samsung’s confusing 2016 TV model number lineup.

Kris I. sent us a link to an article in which Sound & Vision tested various “High Speed” HDMI cables and discovered that many of them seemingly cannot transmit more than 10.2 Gbps. Jonathan F. and Jared F. both wanted our comments on Dr. Floyd Toole’s Audioholics article. And Richard B. gets our recommendation for in-wall and outdoor rated speaker wire, as well as thoughts on banana plugs, Coax Seal tape, and shipping to Canada, including CablesOnSale.ca, which resells Monoprice branded products in Canada.

Jason has a budget of $1,000/pair for new speakers. If he sticks with bookshelf models, the choices are nearly limitless, but we suggest starting with internet-direct brands that pay shipping both ways, like SVS and Aperion Audio, then considering other popular online brands like Ascend Acoustics, NHT HiFi, and EMP Tek (including their RBH MC Series). Comparing those with widely available retail brands like Klipsch, KEF, GoldenEar, PSB, Paradigm, Martin Logan, and B&W should allow him to narrow down his likes and dislikes, and hopefully find some speakers that perfectly match his preferences!

Raj gets us to confirm that we think a Vizio D or E-Series TV is the best choice for under $500. Tyler H. has in-ceiling speakers with a High Frequency EQ control and wants to know where to set it. And Infinite Gary wants to know when we think OLED prices will fall, as well as what the heck went wrong with his MacBook Pro’s headphone output jack.

Will T. want to figure out dimensions for a seating riser, whether to go with a grey or a white projection screen, and how close he can put a rear-ported speaker to the wall, as well as how high his Surround speakers can be mounted. Scott B. asks about Dolby Surround Upmixing vs. DTS Neural:X upmixing. He also gets our suggestions for in-wall power cord extensions, which all cost about the same coming from PowerBridge, Monoprice, or Sanus. And he asks if there are TV wall mounts with vertical adjustment that can handle more weight than the OmniMount Play70. DynamicMounting.com fits the bill, but the price tag is high, so simply re-mounting a patching a wall might be the best route.

Michael R. gets more clarification on Audyssey microphone placement, Reference Volume, and speaker crossovers, including that pesky LPF for LFE setting. SteveTheGeek is itching for a 4K projector. And John M. wants to go infrasonic for under $2,000, which massive subs like the SVS Ultra or Rythmik FV15HP can do, but if he wants the very deepest extension, dual sealed sub like the HSU ULS-15 Mk.2 might be the better way to go.

Greg gets a ton of links to get him started on his home theater journey:

1) THX Surround Speaker Setup
2) THX Flat Panel Setup
3) Harman White Paper on Multiple Subwoofers
4) Dolby Atmos Speaker Setup
5) Audyssey Setup Tutorial Video
6) RealTraps Small Room Acoustics Video
7) GiK Acoustics (check their “videos” tab), and
8) Sound Proofing Company (read all their Solutions, Articles, and Soundproofing 101)

And we finish with Michael I. asking about acoustic panel placement, finding first reflection points, ceiling treatments, 2-inch vs. 4-inch thick panels, and Surround speaker placement as well as how to run wires to the back of his room without being a tripping hazard.

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AV Rant #480: iClever Bluetooth Headphones Review

April 11th, 2016 No comments

This week we thank @SteveTheGeek, Richard B., Tyler, Steve W., Richard C., and Ilango for their generous donations. We also give a huge thanks to Ash for making a “metal” version of our AV Rant logo!

Tom starts us off with a review of iClever IC-BTH04 Bluetooth earphones that include a nifty magnet system to keep them around your neck with a retail price of $50.

In the news, Yamaha Receivers got their DTS:X firmware update, and more Denon & Marantz Receivers can now decode Auro-3D (for a $200 upgrade fee). Sony launched a new Ultra HD streaming service called ULTRA that includes HDR titles for $30. Fandango is renaming M-Go and calling it FandangoNow. Joseph P. gave us the heads up about the California School of Seismology using SVS PB13-Ultra subwoofers to simulate earthquakes. And David F. and Efrain sent us links to some April Fools’ jokes in the forms of a Solid Gold Subwoofer driver, and KEF Hydro Blaster.

Kris I. had deliveries from both Accessories4Less and Aperion Audio go awry, but he’s pleased that both companies quickly made things right. And Lee V. heard us talking about LEDs being too bright, so he suggests using after-market car window tint for a cleaner look than tape.

Harvie W. asks if larger Tower speakers are worth it in a small room. Richard B. gets our recommendation for the Yamaha NS-AW592 Outdoor Speakers for his newly covered patio. And Carlos M. wants to know if dual HDMI outputs on a player will allow him to bypass a non-HDCP 2.2 AV Receiver. We also point to Monoprice’s new Blackbird 4K HDCP 2.2 HDMI switch. And we talk about the XTZ Sound Cinema S2, EMP Tek E3b, Ascend Acoustics HTM-200SE, and NHT SuperZero 2.1 as good candidates for on-ceiling speakers.

Bill S. gets our in-wall speaker recommendations, which include: KEF, Focal, and RBH Sound. Infinite Gary asks if we agree with Scott Wilkinson that Vizio’s new P-Series displays are better for very bright rooms than an LG OLED. And Michael R. asks about using the Keuwlsoft SPL Meter app for Android to confirm that he has everything set to Reference Volume.

Greg asks our opinion of PSB speakers. Sam P. wonders why Netflix looks better than DirecTV and gets us to recommend Vizio’s new P-Series to him. And Filipe wonders about some additional Center speaker options as well as the power handling rating listed in speaker specs.

Jason wonders if it’s worth picking up a pair of used Polk RTi6 speakers to expand his system to 7.1. Adriano M. gets more input on using curtains as acoustic absorption. And Karl R. takes us to task over saying Atmos might never catch on at home while fantasizing about owning the largest IMAX theater in the world.

Steve W. asks what he should do in order to add a Center speaker to his system. Ashley S. has questions about getting 5.1 audio out of a Mac Mini as well as why different Blu-ray releases of the same movie would have different aspect ratios. And Luis E. wants great sound on a “Costco budget”, which leads us to strongly recommend a Pioneer Andrew Jones 5.0 speaker package with an SVS subwoofer to handle his large room size.

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AV Rant #479: Flick the Tip

March 31st, 2016 No comments

electric_rdThis week, we thank Tyler and William for their donations, Kris I. for mentioning us to Aperion Audio and Accessories4Less when he bought products from them, and Jeremy P. for letting Herb know he heard about Cross-Spectrum Labs on AV Rant. Keep your ears peeled for Tom’s SVS Prime and Ultra speaker reviews next week or the week after.

In the news, Antoine on Twitter was first to give us the heads up about Vizio’s new 2016 P-Series with Dolby Vision and HDR10 (within 90 days). Also announced are new Vizio M-Series and E-Series displays. SVS has updated their SVS Customer Bill of Rights. And Amazon used GitHub to release an official project to build an Echo (Alexa) using a Raspberry Pi 2.

Jonathan F. mentioned And Vinyly, a company that will press your ashes into vinyl records after you die. Bill offers more ideas for Wesley’s Volume Mystery, although switching to 2-channel output seems to be providing a usable workaround. Mark says drop ceiling tiles stuck directly onto a drywall ceiling make excellent ceiling cable camouflage. And Karl R. found a test from the BBC asking: Can Sound Change the Taste of Chocolate?

Ian E. gets our input on Audyssey microphone placement, speaker toe in, and which parts of the Audyssey Suite to turn on and off. Bill S. wants an Atmos Receiver, but it’s his desire for whole house audio that makes us strongly suggest a Yamaha AV Receiver with MusicCast. And John W. asks about a spherical room, then gets our suggestions for a headphone amp, which include the Schiit Audio Magni 2 if you want to spend a little, the Audio Engine N22 if you want to spend a little more, or the Oppo HA-1 if you want to spend a lot. The Emotiva Stealth DC-1 is also a good choice with a price that falls in the middle.

Brock R. gets our input on how many Atmos ceiling speakers he should add and where he should put them. Scott B. gets the scoop on Tom’s current plans for written reviews. And Tom K. gets a definitive answer in the battle of waffles vs. pancakes vs. French toast.

Kris I. asks whether Audyssey is a benefit or a detriment for background music in a large, open space. Felipe has a failing B&K amplifier, and we recommend the Monoprice Monolith 7 or the Outlaw Audio Model 7700 as replacement options. Felipe also wants to replace his Center speaker, and our top recommendations to match his other PSB speakers are the Paradigm Monitor Center 3 v.7, RBH Sound MC-616C, or the pricey PSB Imagine C3. And for deaing with Felipe’s 9,000 cubic feet of air, we point him towards HSU Research, Power Sound Audio, and Rythmik Audio as the output per dollar value champs.

Abby Savage is using a self-powered Center speaker that seems to be picking up RF interference from her Xbox 360. We discuss options and explain a little bit about how ferrite cores work. Josh Z. wonders why the calibration test tones from a setup disc measure lower than 75dB on his SPL meter. And Adriano M. gets our input on using curtains as acoustic absorption.

Jeremy P. is starting Porter Edwards HiFi to sell “boutique” hand-made speakers and subwoofers, so we offer him some business advice. Nelson A. wants subwoofers that can go “subsonic”, so our top recommendation is to go large and sealed from Power Sound Audio. Infinite Gary gets our suggestion for an HDMI switch, and our thoughts on those new Vizio P-Series monitors vs. LG’s OLEDs. And Tim B. is most likely in need of a new Audyssey microphone, so we suggest some resources, and a potential low tech fix.

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AV Rant #478: Bizarro Theater

March 24th, 2016 No comments

electric_rdThis week, we thank Robert, Tyler, James, Brock, and Fred for their donations. Fred used AV Rant Listener Rob W.’s Printed Absorption Panels write-up with fantastic, affordable results! Our Producer Austen was thankfully able to join us this week! And Tom reviews his new Silver Ticket Projection Screen.

In the news, Playstation VR will cost $400, or $500 if you want Launch Bundle. Sony is also rumored to be working on a more powerful “Playstation 4.5“. And Tyler F. pointed us to the “HD Vinyl” story that was all the rage this past week.

Paul MacDonald had a visit from Rob H. to help restore his Kodi Add-Ons from TVAddOns.ag that were lost when he updated his Minix NEO X8-H Plus Android TV box. Patrick G. shared his amazement at seeing LG’s OLED UHDTVs in person. And Jared F. (sorry we forgot your name while we were recording!) recommends the RBH EP-SB Bluetooth Earbuds. We hope our Mystery Caller to our Offline Rant Line hears the podcast and writes to us. Brenden G. might know a simple solution to Wesley’s jumping volume mystery: check the batteries in your remote! And SteveTheGeek got exactly what he expected when he added an Outlaw Audio Model 770 to his system.

Robert F. from Australia wants to expand to a 5.2.4 Atmos setup, but that requires more expensive AV Receiver models like the Denon AVR-X4200W, Marantz SR6010, or Yamaha RX-A2050. We also weigh in on speaker placement and Robert’s options for a second subwoofer. Tyler F. gets the lowdown on the Ascend Acoustics Sierra speakers that Rob H. uses and the Aperion Audio Verus Grand speakers that Tom uses. Tyler also asks us to compare the B&W CM6 S2 with its Tweeter On Top design vs. the less expensive traditional box CM5 S2 that appears to have all the same specs. And he puts out the call for a database of AV reviewers that would allow readers to quickly figure out whom to ignore!

James B. wants to know if Tom still agrees with his own “5 Reasons Dolby Atmos May Be DOA” article. Zach R. wants to double check that the Vizio E65-C3 from Sam’s Club, is the best deal (we think it is). And Kris I. (who totally lives in a McMansion) wants to use a $1600 budget to improve the sound in his Living Room. We suggest EMP Tek Towers or Ascend Acoustics CMT-340SE speakers mated to an HSU VTF-3 MK5 to handle the large space. We also discuss ported vs. sealed design, and we recommend a Marantz Slimline Receiver as a great way to get 2.1 pre-outs plus HDCP 2.2 support all at an affordable price.

Tyler S. needs help deciding between 5.1.4 and 7.1.4, and he wants to know if he can use an older AV Receiver as an external amp in either case. Brent S. asks about DTS Neo:X vs. DTS Neural:X. Tom K. read some advice about how to adjust subwoofer phase that we completely disagree with. And Glenn M. has an enormous space with in-wall speakers that cannot be moved and asks if there’s anything he can do to improve the sound.

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AV Rant #477: Defy YPAO

March 17th, 2016 No comments

electric_rdThis week, we thank John, Cliff, Ed, Brendan, and Tyler as our Listeners of the Week for their generous donations! Ed replaced dual subs with a lone Paradigm Prestige subwoofer, but that lone sub gets firmware updates, so there’s that.

Tom got a new Silver Ticket projection screen, and he’s testing the SVS Prime and SVS Ultra Series speakers, so look forward to reviews of all of those coming soon!

In the news, LG revealed their complete “Super UHD” 4K LCD TV lineup and pricing, all of which support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision. Brandon M. gave us a heads up about The Screening Room, which aims to offer first run movies at home for $50 with backing from Hollywood directors. And Tyler F. sent us Ford’s projector screen for autonomous cars patent.

Jeff G. heard us ranting about Shun Mook Mpingo wood products, and that sent him down the rabbit hole, including their claim that a wood disk can weigh more if you flip it over in your hand (seriously). And Wesley M. has a seemingly unfixable volume malfunction in his system, but Tom has one last troubleshooting idea, which is to try a 2-channel analogue signal.

David has $2,000 to upgrade his loft setup, and we suggest spending it all on subwoofers and speakers. Justin B. gets our recommendations for the Teac HA-P50 headphone amplifier, Outlaw Audio Model 5000, Emotiva XPA-200, and Crown XLS DriveCore amplifiers to go with his new Center, Surround, and possible Magnepan Front speakers. And Brian R. has some questions about his Logitech Harmony Smart Control (now Harmony Companion) universal remote setup.

Cliff Heyne is finishing his basement, and we offer suggestions for subwoofer, Atmos speaker, and Surround speaker placement. Darren L. asks about Reference Volume. Infinite Gary wants to know how close a ported speaker can be placed to a wall. And Chris T. asks if he should manually override YPAO, and where he should position his projector.

Joe W. gets us to spill the beans on where really old AV Rant episode downloads went. Brandon G. has a subwoofer budget and size restrictions, and wants to know if driver materials indicate quality. And Bill R. asks about >$2,000 projectors and whether we think affordable 4K HDR models will arrive in the next 2-3 years.

Brendan G. could use an inexpensive 2-channel amplifier from AudioSource or Dayton Audio to expand to 11 speakers in what Rob insists should be a grey and black theater. Sammy C. gets us to rant about CNET’s Steve Guttenberg’s claims that old Receivers sound better than new ones. And an Anonymous Listener asks about Tower vs. Bookshelf vs. Satellite speakers.

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